Watching the movie, “The Outsider’s” last night (it’s an old movie), I know, but I’d never seen it. The movie was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and also included up-and-coming stars, including C. Thomas Howell (who garnered a Young Artist Award), Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane. The film helped spark the Brat Pack genre of the 1980s.
Anyway Steph took a momentary break from her headphones and her room to come for a visit into the living room. We began talking and I mentioned that I was a greaser back then which ignited an interest from her.
“We’re reading that book in English now. Just wait ’til I tell Ms Ferguson you were a greaser!”
I am really ancient, I guess. I have actually been around since those halcyon days! However, I don’t remember the socs, only the Greasers and the Baldies (the more nerdy group, who have since become the more fashionable group).
My cousin named me a greaser while in the 6th or 7th grade because I already had long sideburns – like Elvis. And though I wasn’t allowed to wear Beatle Boots – I did have some black, pointy-toed shoes, that really stood out from my – ivory colored skin tight – stretch pants. That was the style in those days (early to mid ’60s.)
She asked about fights between the two factions.
I told her, “The fights were individual.”
I didn’t tell her of the brawl that was supposed to happen along the tracks, under the White Bear Avenue Bridge between the kids from the projects and their school Ames, and my school Hayden Heights. The two schools met at the larger Hazel Park Junior High earlier in the day for an orientation…that’s when the battle lines were drawn.
We, the tough kids from Hayden Heights showed up but Ames did not. That gave us a one up on them throughout junior high. And I bolstered my bad reputation by having 17 suspensions during those 3 tumultuous years for smoking and fighting. I hung out nightly with more greasers from the pool hall – A&D Billiards.
I ran away from home twice. The 2nd time I had run away with a girl past where I’m living now, Springfield. to Branson , Missouri. And Branson was not always a big entertainment site. Why when I was 16 and Carol and I were thrown in jail in Branson for speeding and driving a stolen car (they thought, but the car wasn’t stolen).
Junior high days were mostly spent trying to impress everybody – A friend told my oldest daughter that I was the “Fonz” of the school. I worked many a night and weekend for Dad. Nights were always spent at A&D and sometimes up at the trestle hopping trains — to nowhere and walking back to the trestle. Who would’ve known then that my 1st wife would have been met in the 8th grade? Or that I would meet with a tragic accident?
Always remember this kids, your life can change in the blink of an eye. There certainly are no guarantees. Up until my car accident I felt invincible but soon found out how wrong I was about many things.